By any gauge, I am an artist creating images using a figurative vocabulary, a narrative voice and a perspective of time. My concerns of form, light and shadow, and movement created by mark and color have always been important to me as an image-maker and with the gift now of experience and time, the importance of the narrative has increased. Seemingly odd and disparate pieces are brought together in these compositions: flannel shirted figures, playing cards, crows, watches, thimbles, chrysalis, monarch wings and broken relics. These are subjects that I have built long relationships with and by working again and again with the same ideas, try to uncover something more than what I know about the image and myself. And that is an underlying structure for almost all of my work, whether it be a dog, mask, crow, or human form.
Many of my images are concerned with the figure with or without masks. All have evolved out of study and love of the figure form, an interest in the mask, and a desire to explore the notion of memory: real but removed. The figures are removed yet connected to the underlying structure of the human body: bones. The bones may rise to the surface and become armor rather than armature: like a protective adornment. The images are more connected to a dreamlike memory… that which lingers. Dream and nightmare are mixed together to suggest the possibility of the “human shadow” in the image and to create an unsettled edge.
Crows and dogs comprise another focal point and are an often-revisited subject. But they are not dogs to me as in canas domesticus. And like the more recent crow, they have become the basis of vague narratives in the landscape of rural Midwest, specifically southern Iowa. They mark the passing of seasons. They are in the landscapes of late fall and early spring when the surface of the earth seems very empty. No longer do rows of beans or corn separate the earth from the sky. The tones of the exposed earth and remaining dried vegetation are contradictory. The images are places for light to shape the form and for the shadow to play on the ground. Yet, these are not innocent pictures of dogs or crows or human form or lost possession. And crows are never innocent. Tensions rise out of the animals’ posturing where light creates shadows that become voids. Often times other shadows enter the frame and raise questions as to the relationships between the suggested form and the subject. I want to heighten this unease through the decisions I make about the composition. These animals serve to slice composition and underscore the edge.
In recent years, the idea of season change and renewal has become more subtly explored. The container bulb: forced into life in the middle of winter, the Chrysalis that holds a life that is transforming. These are also suggestions of change and change suspended. The comment that a friend made “sometimes the most precious gifts are wrapped in barbed wire”, has held my imagination as I work with these images like analogies and await some transformative gesture.
Obviously as an artist, I do not want to explain away my work. I want the viewer to make a connection to the work – to feel an emotion – to have the image linger, to recognize the shadow and welcome and remember their experience with the images, like a dream memory.
Ann Klingensmith ~ 2017
My life has revolved around my family, my work and my students. I hold a BA in Studio Art from Graceland College, Lamoni, IA ~ a MA and an MFA from the University of Iowa Printmaking ~ Currently Professor of Art at Iowa Wesleyan University (College), Mt Pleasant, IA
Thanks for looking. Many of my prints are still available for purchase. Send me an e-mail and I’ll get back with you.